The Omni and Omni Plus Air Fryer Oven is one of the appliances I use the most in my kitchen. It’s so versatile and with all the different combinations and positions for the racks and trays, there is no end to the recipes you can cook with it. But it’s versatility is also what can make it so complicated, especially for beginning cooks and new owners, who wonder….
- What rack do I use?
- Does the tray always go on the bottom?
- What level do I place the rack on?
- When do I use the basket vs the rack?
- Can I cook on multiple levels?
- Why the heck is this tray smoking?????
If you have ever asked these questions, you came to the right place. I’ll go over each of those questions and more, to help you get the best out of your Air Fryer Oven.
Here is my step by step tutorial video.
Let’s start with the rack accessories that come with the Omni/Omni Plus. The 3 rack accessories that come with both air fryer ovens are:
Where do I start in deciding where to place the racks?
My first suggestion is for beginners who aren’t sure where to start, to follow the suggestion of the Omni. The Omni and Omni Plus both have the suggested rack placement on the outer door. This can be a good place to start when you aren’t sure. Typically I stick to their suggested placement for Air Fryer, Bake, and Toast mode. Remember though, these suggestions work best for the Rack, not necessarily the Drip Tray.
Best Rack Positions for Air Frying
The trick for deciding what rack position and what racks to use when cooking in the air fry mode, I like to focus on the “FRY” aspect of the Air Fryer Oven and not the “OVEN” part. what I mean by that is, the reason deep frying works so well is because the hot oil surrounds all of the surface area of the food, evenly. Nothing but the hot oil is touching the food.
So, when air frying food, think of it like deep frying in oil and go for the tray and rack position that will allow you to get the most surface are of the food surrounded evenly with the hot air. Here are the 3 rack set-ups I use for air frying.
- The best set-up is simply the Wire Rack in the middle position. (This allows for the most even air flow to surround the food, with the least amount of surface area covered or touching the rack.)
2. If your food is too small to fit on the rack without it falling through, then the next best set-up is the air fry basket on top of the rack.
3. If you food is too messy to place on an open rack or the basket, then my next best suggestion is to place your food on a sheet pan. This allows for the most even cooking, just make sure to flip the food 3/4 of the way through cooking.
Best Rack Position for Baking
Most food you bake is:
- In a pan (cake, brownies, etc.) that have a thick batter and tend to brown on top way before it’s done int he middle and on the bottom.
- Cookies or food on a tray that have high sugar contents and over brown on the top and burn.
- Casseroles in deep dishes that burn on top before the middle is done cooking.
The best way to keep this over browning and burning on the top from happening, is to make sure the food is as far from the top heating element and fan, as possible. To do this, use the “BAKE” mode so the bottom heating element is turned on, and place the Wire Rack on the bottom position.
Why not use the BLACK DRIP TRAY instead of the sheet pan?
You are probably wondering why I don’t use the Black Drip Tray instead of a sheet pan on the rack? I have been cooking with the Instant Omni Air Fryer Oven for over a year, almost every day. I have found that the Black Drip Tray is not optimal for cooking most foods on. It tends to overheat because of the dark coating. The dark coating on any tray will absorb heat and causes uneven cooking and also can cause drippings and fat to smoke. Finally, the coating on the tray discolors easily and can be almost impossible to clean. As of now, you cannot buy another tray, but if you use a sheet pan, that can be cleaned easier and if it gets ruined, you can easily find a replacement.
So when and how do you use the Black Drip Tray?
- You can place it on the very bottom level when air frying, for easier clean up. By placing the tray on the lowest level, you are raising the floor of the oven, and this doesn’t impede in the cooking, but actually can help it. **Do not do this on modes that use the bottom heating element or with food that drips a lot of fat or moisture, because it may cause smoking.**
- Because it heats up so fast and so hot, you can use that to your advantage. In my Air Fryer Cuban Sandwich recipe I preheat the drip tray in the oven so it gets really hot. When I place the sandwiches on top, it acts like a panini press and makes the bottom of the bread crispy as the top is getting crispy from the air fryer.
- When you are cooking food (like cakes or frozen pizza), and the top begins to brown too much, you can place the Black Drip Tray on the very top level to block the air and heat.
Lastly, think outside of the box. Try different set-ups and don’t be afraid to use the trays in an unconventional manner.